“I will be at Everton for as long as Everton want me” | Megan Finnigan Exclusive Interview

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 29: Megan Finnigan of Everton arrives ahead of the FA Women’s Super League match between Everton FC and Leicester City at Walton Hall Park on September 29, 2022 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Emma Simpson – Everton FC/Everton FC via Getty Images)

I would like to start by thanking Megan for allowing me to do this interview. She is going to be a key part to our squad this season, she is such a genuine and lovely human being and I wish her all the success for this season.

Megan, you scored in the first goal in the derby at Anfield in front of the Kop end, how did that feel?

“Yeah it was amazing to be honest, bit of a dream come true. I think you could tell by my reaction just how much it meant, I always love scoring and I always go a bit wild but to get the first goal of the derby was massive because it was such a big game, so much hype around it. I think to get the early goal, it really helped us.”

And having that sold out away end at Anfield, did that help motivate the players at all?

“Yeah definitely, I think when we found out in the week that it was sold out, it was something that got us really excited for the game because we didn’t know how many Liverpool fans would be there but no matter what we knew that we would have that sold out away end. We knew our fans would be loud and they were. I remember when I scored I could hear them so clearly. It really helped and it seems we’ve got a growing fan base at the minuet so it’s really nice to have so many people supporting.”

How do you think this season is going to look for Everton Women?

“I think we’ve got every reason to be optimistic about it, I think obviously last year was such a struggle so we’ve not set too many expectations this year in terms of where we want to finish but I think just from training with the girls, being around Brian, everything is really positive. Everything’s looking good in training. I think our style of play is a lot more clear and we’re playing some nice football. Nothing will ever be plain sailing, we didn’t get off to the best start against West Ham, but we just have to try and be positive and take each week as it comes really.”

With the new signings that Brian has brought in, how do you think it will help and improve the team?

“There’s been a lot of new signings, there’s been a bit of a restructure. I think they’ve settled in really well, first and foremost they are really good people, really lovely girls so it’s been easy for them to settle in. A lot of them have worked under Brian before so they know his style of play, they know what he wants. They are all really talented footballers as well, like I say they’ve settled in so easily and they’ve definitely strengthened the squad. It’s only a good thing and you want to have a competitive squad because you want to be competing every week for your place. So yeah it’s been really good, it’s nice to have fresh faces it keeps things interesting, it’s been really good.”

Last week you made your 150th appearance for Everton, What do you hope your legacy will look like at Everton?

“Yeah I mean first of all it was such a proud moment for me to have made that 150th appearance and it kind of crept up on me, I didn’t realise I played so many times because I’m only 24 so I kind of see it as, well if I’ve made that many appearances already in 5 or 10 years time, by the end of my career, I’d love to leave the club as an Everton legend. Somebody who just epitomises Everton. I have the characteristics of an Everton player, every week I play with passion and pride for the club. I just want people to be able to look at me and say that she gives her all every single game. Hopefully I can make many more appearances, it’s really special for me to have done that.”

Building on what you’ve said, What does Everton as a club mean to you?

“It means everything, like I said to you when I scored in the Kop end, my celebration it’s just passion, pure passion, because it means so much to me. Coming through the academy as a 9 year old girl, I couldn’t even begin to imagine now playing for the first team week in week out, I’m living my dream. The club has done so much for me because they’ve developed me as a player and a person. People don’t believe when I say I used to be the shyest girl in the world, I never used to speak. I’d turn up for training, wouldn’t say hello and leave. Now, I’m a confident girl, I’m quite loud maybe a bit too loud. They’ve done so much for me and I’m always so grateful to them for doing that. I hope that reflects in when I play as well.”

The fans are a huge part of Everton as a club, men and women, last week we sold out Walton Hall Park, how did that feel?

“It was amazing, again just knowing before the game that it had been sold out, it just gives you an extra boost going into the game. I think Walton Hall is such a good stadium, it’s really nice pitch but it’s so close to Goodison, if that’s full every week we can really use that to our advantage. It definitely helped, I remember when we got the free kick in the last minute, I could hear the fans chanting beforehand and obviously we got a bit fortunate with that goal but that’s probably because it’s such a hard place to play at. If we can continue that then teams will not want to come and play against us.”

This new generation of female players are going to huge idols to the younger generations, who were your heroes or heroines when you were younger?

“I always looked up to Fara Williams, I remember she coached me for a year when she was at Everton when I was a kid. What she’s been through in her life to get to where she is and she is unbelievably talented. Then I’ve also had the pleasure of being coached by her, recently in the last year at England U23’s. I just think what she’s done for the game is unbelievable, players like her have created what we have now. We have everything to be thankful to them for.”

What do you hope the future of the women’s game will look like?

“I think the next step, short term, is to get more bums on seats in stadiums. Selling out Walton Hall Park because on the back of the Euro’s, it’s such a good opportunity now to get more people to come to the games. More people are watching women’s football on TV but we want people to come to the game so we have that atmosphere. It was really good playing at Anfield but ,being greedy, we want more people, we want it to be sold out. I think the sky’s the limit for the game to be honest, I think it’s only going to get better. The best players in the world come to this league to play, so I definitely think the WSL is the place to be. We are very lucky that we play in it. We’ve still obviously got a long way to go, there’s still issues around equal treatment and stuff like that. When I was playing as a kid I didn’t think it would be possible to do what I’m doing now. Fast forward another 10 years and who knows what could happen.”

What are your aspirations for Everton Women, as a team and as a player?

“I’ve been here a long time and I’ve never really won silverware with the club so, long term, that’s my aim. We got to the FA Cup Final at Wembley a couple of years ago and we just fell short but to be in those big occasions, that’s what you dream of as a player. I will be at Everton for as long as Everton want me so , long term again, I’m happy to be here as long as it’s the right place for me. As a team, like I say we’re in a new phase at the minute and we’re building. This year it’s hard to set a target but I think under Brian and the players we keep building, in a few years I think we should be challenging for Champions League. As an individual player, that is the pinnacle of your career, I think to be playing in the Champions League it’s the best competition for men and women. That would be my dream.”

Is there any specific type of music you listen to before a match-day?

“I’m actually DJ at Everton, I mean I’ve kind of been pressured into doing it. I play a bit of everything, I’ve got such a wide variety of music taste, I’d probably go more towards dance vibes but I do like a bit of R&B. But because I’m DJ I have to cater for everyone, I’ve even got Brazilian songs on there for Gio. So there really is a bit of everything.”

Away from football, how do you relax? What are your interests?

“You’ve met my dog Snoop, he takes up a lot of my free time and I really love walking, just being in the outdoors with him and not with him. During lockdown I got into yoga which I’ve stopped doing recently but I’d love to get back doing that, I found I got a lot from that. Generally, just hanging out with my friends and seeing them, I think it’s important to be able to switch off from football because it is such an intense environment. You need to be able to switch off and not think about it.”

After the international break we face Chelsea who are the current WSL Champions, do you feel any added pressure coming into tougher games or does it motivate you?

“No I don’t think so, the pressure is not on us, it’s all on them. Last year we talked so openly about how we’re going for Champions League, there was a lot of pressure on us and people were expecting big things. This year we haven’t set a target and they’re the current champions, everyone expects Chelsea to win it again this year and I’d probably agree with that they will. They have to be perfect every single game and they have to win every single game so if we can take something from the game then that would be a massive shock to the league but I genuinely think that we can. I think we are a lot better organised than we were last season and yeah, like you say, as a player you have to embrace these opportunities. I’ll be playing up against Sam Kerr, one of the best forwards in the world, if you go into it fearful you are going to come off not in a good way, I have done that in the past but you have to just embrace it. Respect them but not give them too much respect if that makes sense.”

As a player what fixtures are you looking forward to the most this season?

“The derby round 2. I think that’s always the one I look forward to the most would be the derby. All these games Chelsea, Arsenal, Man City, I think Man United is always a really close game, there seems to be some kind of hidden rivalry between us, I’m not actually sure why, the games between us are always quite intense. They are the games you what to play because it’s a test of where we are at.”

This is my last question, if you could give one piece of advice for the younger generation of girls who aspire to play professionally, what would it be?

“First of all, this is something I learnt a few years ago, be comfortable being uncomfortable. To get to the top it’s not going to be easy and you have to put yourself in really challenging situations that you’re not comfortable with. It used to be so uncomfortable for me just turning up to training because I was that shy, you have to put yourself through that to get to where you are now. Just enjoy every single moment, whilst I’ve said that on the one hand, on the other hand we’re so lucky to do what we do as a job and when you strip it all back and take away all the pressure, you’re literally just kicking a ball around. Which as a little kid you just love doing that, so I think just kind of enjoying it, we’re so lucky to do it, I don’t class it as work because it’s not work it’s my passion, so yeah just enjoy every moment of it.”

Everton Women are back at Walton Hall Park on October the 16th to face reigning WSL champions Chelsea. 

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